Vol State baseball wrapping up season

 

By Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team is at the end of its regular season. This weekend the Pioneers will face off against the Roane State Community College Raiders.

“It’s game by game. Put our heads down and go after it. Worry about the game in front of us,” said Aaron England, relieving pitcher.

The three remaining games are preparation for the 2018 postseason. As of publication, the Pioneers would face Roane State in a play-in game situation.

“The pressure of it makes it fun,” said England.

The pioneers have an overall record of 23-15.

“In a disciplinary way coach has guided us in the right way. Team chemistry has been good comparing to recent years. This season has helped us bond,” said Matt Brown, second baseman.

The postseason tournament will be from May 6-11, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Depending on where the Pioneers finish, it is possible they will play on the first day of the tournament at 3:00 p.m. they would play the 10th seeded team.

“When we have our hitting, pitching, and defense all rolling together its a dangerous mix for these guys,” said Logan Maloney, assistant coach.

The road to the college world series is going through Chattanooga on the Pioneers first pitstop.

“The expectation is that every team in this conference is good. Every week we have to compete and give it our all. I look forward to competing each week, and I love facing the competition we get,” said Jacob Cole, starting pitcher.

The 44-game grind will end this weekend at home versus the Raiders, but another road will open up as the postseason will only be eight days away after the series is over.

“You have to be positive and wait for the next opportunity,” said Ryan Hunt, head coach.

“Well it’s always great to end the season off on a good note with a series win going into the conference tournament. That’d be great to not have to be in the play-in game,” said Cole.

“I think we have a good shot. I think we can kinda get it rolling again to stay out of the play-in game, which saves us an arm,” said Maloney.

To stay updated with the Pioneers baseball club for the remainder of their season follow them @VSCCPioneersBSB on Twitter for updates and analysis.

Vol State baseball tries to make playoffs

 

By Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team is winding down its season. The Pioneers lost this past weekend series to the Motlow State Community College Bucks.

“We are trying to get out of the play-in game and trying to get a postseason berth,” said Chase Haley, redshirt freshman.

The past weekend series loss is a blow to clinching a early playoff position. The next series is this weekend in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The series will make or break this postseason opportunity for the Pioneers.

“It’s crucial. We really gotta have these series so that way we are out of a play-in game,” said Collin Hopkins, starting catcher.

Hopkins has missed “about 20 games” games from having issues with his throwing shoulder and his ankle.

“We are pretty much out of winning the conference. We still have something to play for as far as seeding goes. If you do not win the play-in game series your season is over,” said Ryan Hunt, head coach.

The Pioneers are currently sitting in seventh place in the TCCAA standings with a record of 23-15 and in conference play with a record of 9-11.

“We still have three weekends to go do some things that can put us in a decent seed rather than play in a play-in game. As of now, the way the standings are, we would play Jackson State, and Southwest would play Roane State. Those two teams would go on to play the number one seeds,” said Hunt.

The last series of the season will be at home against Roane State Community College the last weekend of this month.

With seven games left and the postseason on the line, the Pioneers will have to win all the rest of their games to get to 30 wins on the season, a feat which has yet to be done under Hunt’s career at Vol-State. Last season the team fell short one win.

“It’s a matter of executing the pitches called. I’m not worried. I think we could take the conference tournament if we wanted to,” said Hopkins, optimistically about his team.

“It’s doing the little things. Little things equal doing the big things. Keep doing what we

ask to compete and play hard and just see what happens. We play our game and play like we can we can compete with anybody,” said Hunt.

The series in Chattanooga this weekend will start Friday at 1 p.m. and end with a double-header Saturday at 11 a.m.

For game updates and analysis follow the Pioneers on Twitter, @VSCCPioneersBSB.

 

Vol State softball team succeeding with team full of freshman

 

By Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College softball team is having a winning season. Their record as of April 5 is 25-5 with a 10-game winning streak.

“Going 25-5 — I would’ve never thought about it with 15 freshman that have to play. I honestly feel it’s that they refuse to lose,” said Johnny Lynn, head coach.

The softball squad is 17-3 in their conference play this season. As a team they have only lost one game on road.

“The fifth game, I believe, we lost our starting second baseman, and bigger hitters. Tori Barnes broke her wrist on a collision at first base. She has provided leadership in the dugout since then,” said Lynn.

The Pioneers are only second to Chattanooga State Community College in the standings, and Chattanooga has played twelve more games than the Pioneers.

“We are all really tough and want to go bigger places. I like being the leader. I’m tough, and I don’t like to lose,” said sophomore player, Jaylin Mabry.

Out of the 18 players listed on the roster, only three, Mabry, Barnes, and Riley Fleming are sophomores on the team.

“My role is to keep everyone mentally focused. It’s easy to get distracted or get mad. You have to teach younger players how to bounce back,” said Mabry

“We being fifteen freshman we do silly stuff, but they play through it. They are a true team because they pick each other up,” said Lynn.

The loss of a veteran sophomore has not stopped the rolling Pioneers. With 17 games left to play, the team could compete with the number spot in the standings with Chattanooga State who has 18 games left.

This season, Lynn has been using the bullpen in a different way as he has four pitchers.

“Riley usually throws game one, but we are fortunate to have as many pitchers as we do, and they are all different,” said Lynn.

The team is on the cusp of being in the postseason in less than a month, and they would like to go all the way this year.

“A lot of the tougher teams don’t have team chemistry. If you have chemistry, it changes the whole dynamic of a team. I definitely think we can win the whole thing, no doubt in my mind. We are more mentally with it than other teams. We do not stop,” said Mabry.

Last year’s record of 8-20 has now blossomed into a winning season that could turn into a huge success for the Pioneers this season.

“Getting to the tournament, you got to be able to keep your head up, but you’re going to make mistakes you just got to play through it. We are striving to win that tournament in Chattanooga and go on to the national tournament,” said Lynn.

Students can keep up with the Pioneers softball team on Twitter @VSCCPioneersSB. 

 

Vol State baseball player commits to Tennessee Tech

 

By Nick Kieser

Jacob Cole, pitcher for the Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team, committed to furthering his athletic and academic career at Tennessee Tech April 6.

“I’ve had many family members that went to Tennessee Tech. They love it, and I didn’t need to visit their campus to know that’s where I want to be,” said Cole.

“A lot of guys sign late to four year schools. Tennessee Tech is where he’s always wanted to go even back in high school. It’s like his dream school,” said Ryan Hunt, head coach.

This season Cole has pitched a total of 51 innings and has 51 strikeouts as of April 6. His fit into the Tennessee Tech pitching rotation next season perhaps as a starting pitcher is evident.

“I think a strikeout per inning is definitely doing something right,” said Cole.

“If you look at the rankings, they are right there with Vanderbilt, which is pretty prestigious. I have a strong work ethic and a desire to win, in my opinion. I don’t think you find a player who wants to compete more than I do. I hope that Tech is ready,” said Cole.

Cole has been part of a revamp of the Pioneer baseball program, and this team will look to build off his success when he packs his bags to head to Cookeville, Tennessee.

“Jacob has been a big factor in establishing where our program is now and where it’s going to go,” said Hunt.

“He’s been a part of a team that wants to win 30 games this season. He’s an incredibly talented student athlete,” said Jason Barrett, assistant coach.

“He’s really one of the hardest working kids on the team, and he puts in everything he needs to do to get ready for the weekend. I think that he’s going to be an impact player for Tennessee Tech right off the bat,” said Cameron Grogan, Cole’s teammate.

According to Barrett, Cole, is developing a pitch called a cutter to add to his resume.

“It’s a pretty good pitch. He developed pretty quickly. Jacob is going to be successful no matter what he chooses to do. He’s just that type of guy,” said Hunt.

Cole and the Pioneers have 14 games left to play in the regular season.

“I think when you’re not nervous, you can play at your best ability. It’s not about playing the best. It’s about picking up your teammates when they’re down. It’s about being a good guy and teammate. I want to continue to do that,” said Cole.

“He’s a tremendous worker, tremendous young man. He’s everything you want in a player on and off the field,” said Hunt.

“I want to be the guy that was known to work hard in everything he did. Each day I was trying to be a positive influence. It’s been a heck of two years. I’ve really enjoyed it,” said Cole.

Watch Pioneers baseball on Twitter @VSCCPioneersBSB.

 

Home Plate event supports baseball and softball teams

 

By Presley Green

Volunteer State Community College’s annual Vol State Home Plate will be held Saturday, April 14, at noon, at the baseball and softball fields.

The Office of Student Engagement & Support will be hosting the event to celebrate the baseball and softball teams. There will be food, and everyone is invited.

“We celebrate the basketball teams in the fall semester with Homecoming, so the Vol State Home Plate is the spring edition of Homecoming to celebrate our baseball and softball teams,” according to an email from Tabitha Sherrell. “We will have the cafeteria catering free burgers, hotdogs, and chips at the concession stands and then we will have free giveaways.”

Both the softball and baseball teams play at home twice against Motlow State Community College that day. The baseball games are at noon and 2:30 p.m. The softball games are at noon and 2:00 p.m.

Pioneers hope to finish strong in last half of season

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 8.51.59 PMBy Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team has played 22 games and is halfway through the season, as of Sunday, March 18.

The Pioneers split a series to visiting non-conference team the Joliet Junior College Wolves, March 13.

The first game against Joliet had a score of 8-5, and Bill Hamilton, first baseman, hit a grand slam in the seventh inning to score the last four runs in. Hamilton now has two home runs on the season.

Lawson Factor, pitcher, made his starting debut in this first game at home against Joliet.

“No pun intended, but Lawson can be a factor for us when we need him,” said Ryan Hunt, head coach.

Lawson finished the game with four innings pitched and had three strikeouts.

“We were able to scrap together a win in game one with some heroics. A six-run inning in the seventh doesn’t happen often,” said Jason Barrett, assistant coach, about the late first game rally against Joliet.

The Pioneers’ momentum from that play did not transition into the next game.

“The hitting and pitching was not fully there. This was the first time this season that a team has worked harder than us,” said Hunt.

Hunt continued speaking about being the loss to Joliet, 7-2.

“The split is fine, but the effort and drive wasn’t there. We did not deserve to win the first game but we did.”

The Pioneers will go on to a conference game against Walters State.

Individually, one player has stuck out to Barrett, Brent Richey, sophomore outfielder.

“Good to see Brent Richey kind of snap out of an early season swoon,” said Barrett.

“I don’t think our guys will have any trouble getting up for the game with the ranking they have. I am sure we’ll be ready to play focused,” said Barrett, referring to the game versus Walters State. “Early wins and loses don’t matter much. It’s all about how we develop over the season.”Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 8.51.53 PM

Hunt is clear on what he expects of his team when they go head-to-head with Walters State.

“Be ready to play as hard as you can. Don’t worry about the scoreboard,” said Hunt.  

The Pioneers are playing well at home with a record of 9-2 so far going into the conference games versus Walters State.

Hunt commented on facing Walters State, the top-ranked team in TCCAA standings.

“If we play afraid, we’ll get whats headed to us,” he said.

Cumberland JV is the next team the Pioneers will play after Walters State on Wednesday, March 21, at 3 p.m. The home games will be live streamed on @VSCCPioneersBSB, the team’s Twitter page.

Photos by Emanuel DeJesus

Pioneers baseball team continues win streak

 

By Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team has won 11 games in a row, as of March 4. Most recently, the Pioneers swept a three-game series against Columbia State, March 3-4.

Collin Hopkins, catcher, commented on the streak that the Pioneers are on.

“It is preparation for conference play. We need momentum for the games that truly matter. We have that fluff,” said Hopkins.

With the 11-game win streak, the Pioneers are second in the TCCAA with a record of 11-3, behind Walters State with a record of 19-3.

“If we win the conference series we are going to be in a better position for the playoffs. A good playoff spot will help us out in the postseason,” said Raul Mercado, an outfielder and native of the Dominican Republic.

Applying Mercado’s comment, Hopkins seconded what his teammate said on how the conference games matter more than they appear.

“For a sweep, it would be better to get a conference sweep,” said Hopkins.

Despite sweeping a team that is out of state, Hopkins is seeking to win conference games and more importantly maybe sweep some in-conference teams this season.

Jason Barrett, assistant coach, spoke on the win streak and conference games that are beginning.

“It certainly gives us more confidence after starting 0-3. It doesn’t mean a whole lot going into the conference season. The conference season is what really matters the most. It was a chance to get good confidence back,” said Barrett.

The Pioneers will play Dyersburg State and Walters State in the next three weeks. All opponents are in the same conference, and nine games will be played between March 9-17. The only non-conference team played in this span is Joliet College on March 12-13.

“No matter who you are playing you still have to play the game. You still have to get outs. You still have to defend,” said Logan Maloney, assistant coach.

Ryan Hunt, head coach, called the conference teams “powerhouses” for how much depth each team has.

“You need depth, especially to battle in this conference,” said Barrett.

“We got to make the simple plays. No matter who we play, you don’t necessarily prepare differently for each team because then you are losing track of the goal that you are trying to do, and that’s just winning,” said Maloney.

Hopkins commented on whether he thinks the streak will continue.

“There’s no telling. Baseball is baseball. You could be the better team and lose any day,” said Hopkins.

The Pioneers will go to Dyersburg, Tennessee, March 9, and play a weekend series.

“We can do whatever we put our minds to. Keep the guys focused on one day at a time,” said Maloney.

 

Vol State Pioneers ready to face off against Columbia this weekend

 

By Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team is in the midst of a five-game winning streak since beating Lake Land College, Moraine Valley Community College, and Cumberland University’s JV team.  

The 5-3 Pioneers have now made it over .500 and hope to keep their record that way.

“It feels good. Finally over .500, especially starting 0-3. Hopefully we keep this going,” said Ryan Hunt, head coach of the team.

Hunt commented on his team’s offensive play during the Feb. 20 doubleheader against Cumberland University’s JV team.

“Looking for some guys to be more consistent with the bat. We have some guys really struggling offensively, and hopefully that gets better because it’s still early,” he said.

The Pioneers did have high scoring games against Cumberland, but Hunt still thinks the game could have gone differently.

“We didn’t do what we thought we’d do. They helped us out with some errors and that’s how we scored most of the runs,” he said.

After the doubleheader, the Pioneers had won five straight games and were in fifth place in the conference.

Hunt did comment on the successful run, saying that “pitching was really [good].

“Anytime you get a couple of wins is always good. Anytime you win five in a row it feels good no matter who you are playing,” he said.

Baylor Steelman, sophomore leadoff hitter and outfielder, commented on how the nearing conference games would go.

“It’s gonna be huge. It will be hard against all conference teams. We have to go out there and give it all we got.” Baylor said. “I hope to not think too much and just hit more line drives to be a better player.”

Since the start of the 2018 season, Steelman has been the Pioneers leadoff man (the first hitter). “This is my first year that I’ve led off. I’m starting to get used to it,” said Steelman, who went 0-1 with two walks against Cumberland Feb. 20.

With the regular season in play, the positions on defense and offense have been locked up. “There’s already a few guys who have solidified their position. Still waiting on a few guys to produce with the bat,” said Hunt.

The everyday starters are still in the mix for final decisions that Coach Hunt will make, and Steelman believes he is a solidified guy where he is.

“I think I have played good enough to earn the starting spot in center field. I have to keep working hard and not lose it,” said Steelman.

The Pioneers will soon travel to Columbia State University to take on the Chargers, who are 5-6-1, as of Feb. 22. Columbia defeated Chipola College in Chipola, Florida, Sunday, Feb. 18, 12-8.

“It’ll be tough playing Columbia at their place. They just beat the preseason number one team in the country in Chipola,” said Hunt.

“It is going to be a hard fought battle, but we can win it though,” said Steelman confidently about going to Columbia.

The Pioneers will travel to Columbia this weekend, March 2-3. Three games will be played. One on Friday and two on Saturday. The games will be live streamed on The Settler’s Twitter page, @TheSettler. Friday’s game is at 2 p.m., and Saturday’s games are at noon and 2:30 p.m.

Vol State is 220 paved parking spots short

 

Photo by Lauren Whitaker

Photo by Lauren Whitaker

By Lauren Whitaker

Volunteer State Community College is 220 paved parking spots short for the number of students who attend the college.

“This past year, well it was about a two-year process, we worked with a design and architectural firm out of Atlanta called TSW to do a master facility plan. One of the things they look at is a formula to determine how many parking spaces you should have,” said Dr. Jerry Faulkner, president of Vol State. “They came back and said we should have more parking spaces on this campus.”

During this evaluation by TSW, paved parking was the only parking considered. The two gravel overflow parking lots were not taken into account.

“I don’t know the exact number the gravel lots have. Where the gravel lots do not have lines, it’s hard to get an exact number,” Faulkner said.

Vol State plans to pave the two gravel overflow parking lots in the future.

The Tennessee Reconnect program goes into effect August 2018 at Vol State. The Reconnect program is one designed to allow adult students to go back to school tuition-free. Vol State expects an increase in students when the program begins.

“We believe a lot of these returning students are going to be students that work during the day. They will be interested in evening classes and online classes, and we are even planning to have Saturday classes to accommodate those students,” Faulkner said. “I don’t think we will have a significant parking issue.”

During the first semester of the Tennessee Promise students, Vol State addressed the parking issue by having students park in grass areas as needed. This plan will be reactivated if needed, said Faulkner.

“We can’t do that all the time because as the fall comes and the winter comes, people would get stuck,” Faulkner said.

Current students who arrive to school around mid-morning find parking to be difficult.

“I decided to take earlier classes on Tuesday and Thursday because I didn’t want to spend so much time searching for a parking space,” said Sarah Hall, a sophomore at Vol State.

“I have noticed, as the semester progresses, the parking situation gets better. I think students drop classes or people carpool,” said Shelby Swaby, a sophomore at Vol State. “I feel like there is a lot more staff parking that isn’t always filled. I don’t know how many spaces are reserved for staff, but I feel like there are always empty staff spaces.”

Pioneers gear up for baseball season

 

By Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball season is now in full swing.

Although the team only started playing this past weekend, the players feel like they are heading in the right direction.

Collin Hopkins, starting catcher for the Pioneers, summarized his current role on the team.

“I am being a leader on the field and knowing the game strategy is important,” he said.

Hopkins also talked about the team’s pitching.

“We are going to work on pitching, other than that I feel like we have a really great team, especially offensively,” said Hopkins.

“The pitching is on the right track, we just have to get there,” he said.

Redshirt Chase Haley gave an update based on where he believes he sits for this season.

“I think coach will just redshirt me this year, and if not then he’ll make his judgment based on seeing me a few more times,” said Haley.

“If I am not 100% this week, then I will be for sure next week,” he said.

With his PRP (platelet-rich-plasma) injection just last July, Haley is partaking in practice and still seeing if he fits on the regular season roster. He commented on what he would do if he did not make the final cut.

“I could work out then go to the game and be there as support,” said Haley.

Last Tuesday, Feb. 13, the Pioneers lost 9-1 to visiting team Wabash Valley College, who placed third in the NJCAA College World Series last season, said Logan Maloney, assistant coach.

“Everyone is getting into the swing of playing again, we’ve seen really good pitching and now some guys can make an adjustment at the plate,” said Maloney.

“We hung in there early, just had an inning that got away from us a little bit,” said Maloney.

“We are going to be a hard-nose gritty team. That is who we are going to be,” said Maloney about his team.

Maloney also said this team has a pretty good chemistry in the locker room.

Maloney discussed who would be starting for the Pioneers.

“We are still looking for our everyday starters. That is all up to Coach Hunt,” said Maloney.

Maloney has set a goal for his outfielders fielding the long hits by the batters.

“No ground ball errors. That is a goal we have set for ourselves in the outfield,” said Maloney.

“It’s about how you finish. It is not about how you start,” Maloney said.

The Pioneers will play Schoolcraft College and Parkland College on Saturday, Feb. 24. The first game will begin at 12:30 p.m. at Garrett Field on Vol State’s campus. The second game will begin at 2:30 p.m.

During spring break, the Pioneers will take the road to face off against the Columbia State Chargers at Dave Hall Baseball Field in Columbia, Tennessee, the weekend of March 2-3.